"The main merit of the book lies in the rich comparative analysis and the practical recommendations offered by the author. Excellent and coherent. . . By ending each chapter with an assessment of the NHRI and its political context, Mertus successfully combines the best of the two worlds: academic critique with practical policy recommendations. This makes Mertus' comparative analysis of NHRIs an encouraging encounter in an academic world where human rights are frequently studied either as legal-philosophical entries, disengaged from practice, or as unique local struggles, disconnected from comparison."Freek Van Der Vet, Suomen Antropologi
"As to the question of why human rights matter, for many people around the globe it is evident that the full enjoyment of human rights is the difference between despair and hope. Mertus offers many hopeful possibilities by making a strong case for the crucial role that stakeholder participation plays in responding to community interests and values. That insight is perhaps the greatest virtue of her book."Mahmood Monshipouri, San Francisco State University, Human Rights Quarterly
"Human Rights Matters offers insights and illustrations to highlight the effects of NHRIs, contributing to the large volume of descriptive and prescriptive work on the subject. Mertus asserts productively that the local context both shapes and is shaped by NHRIs."Sonia Cardenas, H-Net Reviews
"This insightful work makes a strong case that domestic human rights institutions are essential for understanding the diffusion and implementation of human rights, perhaps more important than the international institutions that have received the lion's share of scholarly attention. As interest in domestic human rights institutions continues to grow, Mertus's richly detailed findings will spark lively discussion and help to fill a considerable gap in the literature." Michael Goodhart, University of Pittsburgh
"Julie Mertus has recently enlightened readers on such subjects as human rights and the United States, and human rights and the United Nations. Here she provides a well considered and well crafted study of National Human Rights Institutions in five western countries, with passing reference to other situations. Her study of how these national organizations interact with their local environment as they try to translate international norms into local human rights improvements breaks new ground. Given the proliferation of such organizations around the world, this is an important and insightful study." David P. Forsythe, University of Nebraska
About the Author
Julie A. Mertus is Associate Professor and Co-Director of the MA program in Ethics, Peace and Global Affairs at American University. Her seven books include, The United Nations and Human Rights (2005) and Bait and Switch: Human Rights and U.S. Foreign Policy (2004), which was named Human Rights Book of the Year by the American Political Science Association Human Rights Section.